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Medellin Itinerary : Top Things To Do In 3 Days

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Looking for a perfect Medellin itinerary? While there would be plenty to explore in the city for much longer, here’s how you can spend 3 days in Medellin and make the most out of your trip.

Medellin is the capital of the province of Antioquia. The city is wedged between the mountains and located at an altitude of 1500 meter. It is often called “The city of eternal spring” because of the pleasant climate all year round. Medellin was known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, because of the Medellin cartel, led by drug lord Pablo Escobar. Between 1990 and 2002, more than 55,000 people were reported to have been murdered. But after the death of Escobar, the city has gone through a huge transformation. Many investments were done in safety, health care, art and cultural projects. Even a large and convenient metro system was built to connect the different parts of the city and make it safer. Medellin now attracts visitors from all over the world and is a place not to miss when visiting Colombia.

Medellin Itinerary

Medellin Itinerary : 3 Days In Medellin

Medellin is one of the best cities to visit in Colombia. It used to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world. But nowadays Medellin is known as a bustling and cosmopolitan metropolis, where you can easily spend days and enjoy the many sights, activities, great restaurants and lovely neighborhoods. Also the surroundings are worth visiting. This 3 day Medellin itinerary will help you explore its surroundings and to get the most out of your stay.

Day 1 : Explore The City

Start Your Day With Some City Views

Cable Car Views of Medellin

Take the metro towards San Antonio Station, the city center. The metro is fast, safe and easy to use to get around the city. Change to the B line towards San Javier station. From here you are able to take the cable car (the J line) and get all the way up the mountain, while enjoying incredible views of the city, the surroundings and its slums. You’ll get a nice overview of the city’s location between the mountains and realize how big this city actually is! It is best to make a roundtrip, and get back to San Javier station and San Antonio Station afterwards, as you don’t want to walk around in a slum you don’t know.

Get Inspired By Local Art – Fernando Botero

Plaza Botero - Medellin Itinerary
Plaza Botero – Medellin Itinerary

At San Antonio station, you can change towards the A line and get off at Parque Berrio. From here it’s an easy walk to the Plaza Botero with its famous sculptures. Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists. His paintings and sculptures are highly recognizable, because of the voluptuous shapes of the people he portraits. As Botero was born in Medellin, he donated 23 of his sculptures to the city, during the Medellin transformation times. What used to be a no-go area in the past, became one of the most visited places in the city. You can walk around and take many pictures!

Tip: If you are interested to discover more art, head to the Museo de Antioquia, located at the Plaza Botero. Inside you’ll find an entire gallery dedicated to the work of Botero and other famous Colombian artists.

If you prefer to try a guided tour, click here to check out this cool Botero city tour that takes you through the San Antonio Park, Museum of Antioquia and Plaza Botero.

Explore The City Center

parque de las luces - Medellin Itinerary
Parque de las Luces – Medellin Itinerary

Next on our Medellin itinerary, it’s time to get an impression of the busy city center. Do not spend too much time here, but make sure to include the following sights.

  • Walk through the busy commercial center, through the shopping street Junín and the Parque Bolivar with the cathedral.
  • Visit Parque de las Luces or Plaza Cisneros with 300 metal masts, that light up in the evening.
  • Walk along the administrative center of La Alpujarra with the Monumento de la Raza, an artwork by Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt, two gigantic bronze statues of murdered politicians, and a memorial to all journalists who have been killed by violence over the years.
  • Around Plaza Mayor you will find parks and walking boulevards, where it’s all about sustainability. Stroll around and have a coffee to go at one of the many benches.

Of course you can choose to go on a tour with a guide but personally I would recommend to discover the center by yourself to just get an overall idea and explore one of the comunas (slums of Medellin) with a guide to learn more about the city’s past.

Dive Into The History Of Medellin

If you are specifically interested in the tragic history of the city, I recommend visiting the Casa de la Memoria, an impressive museum, created to commemorate the many victims of Medellin. The museum will give you lots of information about the war on drugs and guerilla war in Colombia. It’s shocking but makes you understand so much more about Colombia!

Explore Trendy Neighborhood El Poblado & Enjoy A Traditional Meal

A Store In El Poblado - Medellin Itinerary
A Store In El Poblado – Medellin Itinerary

Use the late afternoon for a stroll through the El Poblado neighborhood. In the streets around Parque Lleras you’ll find many restaurants, design stores, and coffee places. There are also many restaurant options. If you would like to try some traditional food, try the bandeja paisa at La Hacienda, on the Strada. Bandeja Paisa, is a famous local dish with meat, potatoes, beans, avocado, egg, chicken. It’s a heavy meal but they serve half portions for visitors to try. Or visit Alambique, a trendy rooftop restaurant with different types of food and great drinks.

Day 2 : Visit Peñol de Guatape

Peñol de Guatape - Medellin Itinerary
Peñol de Guatape – Medellin Itinerary

This day you want to spend in the surroundings of Medellin. The area is green, fertile and mountainous and beautiful to explore. One of the highlights is Peñol de Guatape. This granite rock formation became one of the most famous places of the country, as many Instagram pictures have been taken here. Peñol de Guatepé is a 200m high rock, near the town of Guatape, 2 hours away of Medellín. You can get to the top of this rock by taking more than 700 steps on a climbable staircase. And yes, it is a pretty tough hike up. But the view is more than rewarding! Once you’ve made it to the top, you have a 360 degree view of the lake and lush environment. It’s breathtaking!

A visit to this rock, can be combined with a boat trip on the water reservoir and some hours in the nice town of Guatapé. Guatapé is famous for its steep streets, coffee bars, art shops and many colorful houses. Every house is a true piece of art, as residents paint their houses in bright colors, and decorate the bottom with fresco like panels called zocalos.

You’ll find decorations such as sunflowers, sheep, horses and musical instruments. Some of them even tell an entire story. It’s incredibly photogenic and you could walk around for hours.

Tip: You can visit Guatapé for a day trip from Medellin, but make sure to leave early, so you have a full day to explore. It is also possible to spend the night in Guatapé. There are many lovely guesthouses and it gives you the chance to leave early morning to the Guatapé rock and enjoy the rock with less people.

Click here to book a day trip to Guatapé. This tour also includes a boat ride,  plus a taste of traditional Colombian breakfast and lunch.

Day 3 | Visit The Slums Of Medellin And Unwind In Greenery

Visit One Of The Famous Communities – Slums

Comuna 13 - Medellin Itinerary
Comuna 13 – Medellin Itinerary

Use this day for a visit to one of the special comunas, such as Comuna 13 or Comuna 8. These are slums in Medellín but some of them have been transformed enormously over the years. Comuna 13 used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Medellin, because of the war on drugs. Nowadays it is one of the most visited places in the city because of the great street art and many social projects. The street art is truly amazing. It is best to visit comuna 13 with a local guide to understand more about the history and former life in the comuna.

You can also choose to visit Comuna 8. This is a community less visited, as you won’t find the popular street art, as in Comuna 13. Your visit to this community will be more about the daily life and meeting the locals.

Tip: Make sure you check on the tour agency and guide beforehand to confirm they have an ethical way of working and contribute to the community you are visiting.

Click here to book a much easier option which is to take a guided Comuna 13 tour that explores it’s street art and takes you on a cable car ride for birds eye view of the area. This can even work out cheaper than making your own way there.

Visit The Botanical Garden Or Parque Arvi For Amazing City Views

Views from Parque Arvi
Views from Parque Arvi -Medellin Itinerary

If you have some energy left and want to leave the busy city behind, visit the Botanical garden of Medellin or ecological nature preserve Parque Arvi. The botanical garden is a beautiful area of almost 14 hectares with thousands of flowers and hundreds of birds. It belongs in the list with most beautiful botanical gardens in South America. Parque Arví is an ecological nature preserve in the mountains of Medellin. A cable car takes you to the top, where you have a nice view of the city. You can walk around or sail on one of the lagoons. Both places are perfect to unwind from all the historical and cultural impressions. This activity would be an unforgettable experience for you and is a must in your Medellin itinerary.

Click here to book a guide Parque Arvi hike. It’s inclusive of the cable car, entrance ticket and metro ride from Acevedo metro station.

Enjoy A Culinary Experience In One Of Medellin’s Top Restaurants

Finish your stay in Medellin, with an amazing culinary experience in one of the best restaurants of the city, such as El Cielo or El Carmen. And definitely try one of the tasting menus, where you will be experiencing the modern Colombian fusion cuisine. Delicious!

So here you have your Medellin itinerary. We hope that this 3 day Medellin itinerary would help you in exploring everything this city has to offer.

Guest Post contributed by Deborah Durrfeld from Passport The World. You can find her on Instagram too.

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Anjali Wadhwa (cheerfultrails) is a travel consultant and enthusiast who has traveled to 15+ countries. She shares about her explorations through her writings. You will find detailed itineraries, best travel tips and well experienced recommendations for food, transportation and hotels on her blog.

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